Strong expectations exist for future use of carbon nanotubes as composite materials in a large number of industries. Production cost and control of the purity and properties of such materials will influence the impacts nanotubes on the chemical, computer and construction industries. As a source material, coal is cheap and abundant, and has unique chemical structure, therefore, may be utilised in the nanotube synthesis. In the present paper, the synthesis of carbon nanotubes using coal as source material has been reviewed. Current nanotubes production largely followed the way of the production for fullerenes, most relying on plasma arcing methods. Non-arcing methods were also explored by a number of researchers. Catalytic synthesis is highlighted which has significant potential in the future nanotubes production directly from coal. Mechanism of the nanotube formation from coal is different from that using carbon graphite. Coal properties in this case are important. Weak bonds and mineral matter in the coal play an important role in the formation of the nanotubes.